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Aug 12 2016

It’s Seldom Only about Membership

GEI 5 segment typology

The public report from the Global Engagement Index 2016 was released today along with a companion white paper on recommendations for action.  Collected from nearly 9,000 non-US respondents from the members and customers from 15 associations, the GEI opens a window into new thinking about growing and sustaining business around the world.

Among findings was the introduction of an “engagement typology” representing the different “types” of members and customers based on their own survey responses to questions that uncover empirical evidence about how they view the strength of their relationship to their association and how “engaged” they are.

For the first time, GEI2016 introduces a five-level engagement model categorizing members and customers:

  1. Passive—a prospect or potential customer, or a “pure member” who pays dues but is otherwise uninvolved or disengaged with the association.

  2. Open—a person who has interest in the association’s products, services, and member benefits, but has purchased or participated only in a limited fashion.

  3. Active—someone who is engaging with the association in some way, such as attending a meeting or purchasing a product.

  4. Loyal—someone who repeatedly interacts with the association and purchases/uses its products and services on a regular basis.

  5. Multiplier—a strong promoter and supporter of the association who eagerly brings others into the fold.

One critical insight is that members who dont buy products are significantly more likely to be “passive” or having the worst relationship with the association.  This suggests that a membership first strategy dooms the relationship in the long run.

Download the public report now for more.

Aug 19 2015

IMEA – Combining Fabulous Wealth & Potential You Need to Put on Your Radar

GS N11

This article was written by Ms. Sumaira Isaacs, Chief Operating Officer, IMEA Region (India, Middle East, Africa) for  MCI Group. 

Since 2001, emerging markets have become the world’s economic engine. As companies fiercely compete for market share, professional and trade associations are also seeking to penetrate these rapidly growing economies, with many looking to build and grow chapters by defining locally relevant member value.

India, the Middle East & Africa (IMEA), a region where hyper-growth and huge local investments exist alongside well-documented social and political challenges, is currently leap-frogging ahead in terms of business and
innovation, particularly in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Although IMEA has a relatively short history in terms of the association industry, continued economic investment and expanding education is creating a growing desire for professional learning and development. As governments realise the full potential of associations to support the flourishing business environment, political will teamed with sheer population scale is providing the perfect environment for associations to thrive.

Let’s put this into context:

  • With some 78 countries counted in the region, IMEA has the highest number of emerging nations in any region as well as the world’s fastest economic growth rate of between 7% and 20% annually.
  • IMEA has a population of 2.7 billion (around 37% of the world live here) and a total GDP of 8 trillion dollars.
  • IMEA is a region of extremes, boasting the second largest populated country in the world (India), the richest country in the world by GDP PP (Qatar), and the poorest country (South Sudan).
  • The region enjoys foreign direct investments (FDIs) to the tune of over $50 billion annually.
  • The region is collectively the world’s largest producer of oil and gas (40%).
  • The region also boasts the world’s biggest fleet of A380s and Dreamliners alongside the world’s largest airport and tallest towers.
  • IMEA has one of the world’s highest mobile technology and social media penetrations and pioneered ‘Mobile-Money’ for the rest of the world.
  • With an average median age of 25 (younger than China), the population is young, dynamic, and very ambitious.

Key Country Focus

Turkey, the world’s 15th largest economy, a bridge between Europe and Asia and the driving force of the Levant region (including Turkey, Iran and Northern Iraq), is making huge investments in infrastructure. With larger
airports and sparkling new convention centres on the horizon, including a new airport in Istanbul with a capacity of 150 million passengers and plans to transform the current airport into a convention centre, the association  meetings industry here looks set to flourish.

The African market is an interesting mix of European business fundamentals with the drive and ambition of Asia. South Africa is leading the growth of the association meetings business on the continent, but there are also over 300 associations based out of Kenya, with its own dynamics and opportunities. Business people in the region don’t
talk countries, they talk Africa, so associations have to build this nuance into their business model and ensure a more continent- centric strategy than in other regions.

In terms of the Middle East, the traditional association hubs of North Africa and some Levant countries, such as Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Lebanon, are going through major political and economic meltdown. GCC countries are capitalising on this, with the United Arab Emirates and its population of only 5.8 million leading the charge and reinforcing its growing reputation as the Hong Kong of the Middle East. These countries are also focusing on
investment in mega projects such as Expo 2020, the Olympics and FIFA World Cup in Qatar, with the UAE’s foreign trade expected to touch Dh4 trillion by hosting Expo 2020.

A 100% tax free environment, re-export hub, developed free zones and strategic location are without a doubt the UAE’s main economic strengths, however, like most GCC countries, international associations cannot be set up as legal entities in the region. For this purpose, a free zone like model was incorporated under the banner of Dubai
Association Centre in 2013, enabling international associations to base themselves here and operate independently. This initiative has opened the door for association expansion in the Gulf region and looks set to turn Dubai into a key global association hub.

With a population of 30 million people, Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the GCC and is working hard to diversify its economy by moving away from its primary reliance on oil. Boasting one of the strongest institutional structures in the region, with several independent professional bodies driving industry standards and classifications, Saudi Arabia is also home to some of the region’s largest universities, catering to a burgeoning Saudi youth population.

The majority of regional pharmaceutical budgets sit in this country, and some of the largest medical meetings of the
region take place in Saudi, for a majority Saudi audience with some regional and international attendees. The Saudi associations behind these organisations typically reach out to their regional and international counterparts
in terms of content development as well as best practices, but there is clear potential for more structured
partnerships and strategic growth. More needs to be done to relax entry visa permits for foreign companies to enter, while social segregation and women’s limited role in society remain problematic for various international associations looking to develop in the country.

India is its own market, with a unique ecosystem and strong institutional structure. With a quarter of India’s 1.2 billion people currently defined as a strong emerging middle class – in absolute numbers this is about as big as the
entire US population – India is a dream market in terms of both growing consumer numbers and a growing demand for higher education and professional development.

Thanks to this ever-expanding middle class, India is where many international associations out of the US and Europe are looking to expand their membership bases, as well products such as training programmes and
international meetings. Successfully tapping into the Indian market is not easy, however. A long-term view and  perseverance are vital, and international associations need to invest in strong local expertise and knowledge, ensuring that 90% of strategic decisions are made in the country and 10% come from the HQ, balancing local responsiveness and global standardisation.

Beyond IMEA: NEXT 11

In 2007, Goldman Sachs identified the Next 11 (N-11); eleven countries that could potentially rival the G7 over time, even if they lack the scale to become the next BRICS.  Made up of Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, South Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Turkey and Vietnam, the N-11 is a very eclectic mix identified in the context of similar BRICS themes; energy, infrastructure, urbanisation, human capital and technology.

Despite their differences, there are many examples of these countries working together economically and, as most already have existing strong institutional and association frameworks despite their ‘motley crew’ backgrounds, the opportunities for associations are clear. From an IMEA perspective, it’s important to note that six of the N-11 countries fall well within its territories. While today’s association growth drive in IMEA is focused on the GCC countries, it will be increasingly important for forward-thinking associations to keep up with developments in Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey.

 

 

Jan 31 2015

Top 10 Sustainable Event Trends for 2020

sustainability engine benefits

For many years, MCI has been active globally among corporations, governments, university and non-profit sectors to develop, implement and promote sustainability strategies for meeting industry destination and service suppliers as well as corporate and association executives seeking to reduce the negative impact of their meetings.  Guy Bigwood, leads MCI’s Sustainability Services group which has produced a number of global chief executive events on sustainability to help to accelerate sustainable practices into corporate strategy around the world.

In demand as a speaker and workshop facilitator, Guy recently wrote an article of the leading trends that will impact meeting and conventions around the world.  Herewith are Guy’s thoughts on the future and its impact on our meetings.

Between now and 2020, we predict that organisers will adopt the following 10 key trends to improve the sustainability performance of their events. Aside from helping the planet, these trends will also improve attendee experiences, build stronger communities and generate significant cost-savings.

1 – Transparency & Ethics

Between now and 2020, organisations will make it a priority to more effectively communicate their sustainability strategies and progress. Event brands and enterprises will become more creative and better at storytelling, and consequently we will see a rise in online sustainability reports such as MCI’s Sustainability Report. International mega events will continue to be closely scrutinised and expected to lead the way in terms of compliance and ethics, with issues exposed quickly when they arise (see Qatar World Cup 2020 as an example.) With the global demand for increased transparency, we’ll see more legislation and an increase in both public and client demand for anticorruption and ethics programmes. The focus on compliance in the healthcare industry will increasingly affect other industries such as technology and finance.

2 – Sustainable Food

In 2014, sustainable food was the number one trend for US Chefs. The demand for locally-produced, organic, Fairtrade and sustainable options will continue to grow in the global events industry, with new research showing that sustainable menus improve overall delegate satisfaction. A growth in demand will cause prices to fall and supply to increase, helping make sustainability a key criteria when selecting caterers and restaurants.

3 – Digital & Collaborative Creation

Mobile event apps and digital technologies have already massively reduced pre and onsite printing. By 2020, hybrid meetings will be now be the norm, reducing carbon emissions from travel and opening up meetings to those who would otherwise have been unable to attend. ‘Collaborative consumption’ and the shared economy will also have had a big impact. Many smaller events will be entirely organised using a mix of collaborative technology platforms such as Uber, AirBnB, TaskRabbit and hotelwalla, while dedicated event technology suites will combine bestin-class tools.

4 – The Power of Procurement

Today, 51% of MCI’s largest clients are already assessing sustainability to some degree, an increase from 25% in 2011. By 2020, sustainability will be a key factor in all purchasing decisions and procurement teams will be playing an increasingly important role in driving and managing a more sustainable supply chain.

5 – Sustainability Strategies Replace One-off Programmes

In 2014, 78% of MCI’s 70 biggest clients reported some form of sustainable event programme (up from 15% in 2011), however less than 10% had a comprehensive sustainability strategy. With resources, standards and tools becoming more readily available, and with more clients citing sustainability as critical, corporates will become more strategic and focused on the sustainability of their events. Today, the technology sector is leading with best practices demonstrated from global giants such as Symantec, Oracle, Cisco and Intel.

6 – Standards & Certification

Adoption of the ISO 20121 sustainable event standard will continue to increase. By 2020, we predict that the majority of large publicly funded events will require compliance with ISO20121, which will also be requested in many large corporate RFPs. There will be a growth in national and regional sustainable event standards, and we will also see a rise in destinations such as Barcelona that obtain independent verification of their sustainability management with certification systems such as Biosphere and Earthcheck.

7 – Waste

By 2020, we’ll have made good progress in reducing the amount of waste produced by an event and diverting that waste away from landfills. Organisers will be thinking “cradle to cradle” and integrating sustainable principles into their initial event design concepts, ensuring that event structures are made from materials that can easily and cheaply be reused, recycled and repurposed. PVC will be phased out, and more bio-materials, eco-substrates and new modular display systems will be used. Food waste unfortunately looks set to increase as the economy gets stronger, however some organisers and local governments may find more creative ways of donating food to local charities and food banks.

8 – Community

Organisations in the meetings industry will become more strategic about how and where they donate their time and money, with many organisations streamlining their donations to one or two key charities with clear links to their brand values and culture. Skills-based volunteerism will also lead the way, matching a charity’s needs to employees’ valuable skills. Online platforms will simplify the task of matching donors to causes, and we may see global web platforms such as Kiva using the event industry to amplify their impact.

9 – Aligned Brand Commitments & Operations

Today a key barrier to putting sustainability into action is the perception that sustainability is expensive, and this is preventing a large number of ‘sustainable brands’ from meeting their own commitments when it comes to sustainable events. Companies like MCI will become more skilled at measuring, validating and communicating the business case for long-term sustainability strategies – which in fact reduce costs, streamline operations and improve performance. As the business case for sustainability becomes louder and clearer, more brands will be willing to align their sustainability actions with their ideals.

10 – Sustainable Destinations

At the start of 2015, only a handful of cities such as Bangkok and Orlando can boast a multi-year destination sustainability strategy for their events industry. Between now and 2020, leading convention bureaus will start bringing together key stakeholders to develop a shared vision for the sustainable development of their city. Just as cities can now demonstrate the economic impact of events on their local economy, local governments will increasingly look to the events sector as powerful catalyst of social and environmental change.

For more ideas, research and best practices on sustainability as a strategy in business and meetings today, continue your reading of Guy and his team here.